Saturday September 25, 1999

COLORADO A bit of Denver's past has surfaced at the excavation site for a new federal courthouse. Earthmovers have uncovered the foundations of a turn-of-the-century downtown hotel and service station.

CALIFORNIA The Popol Vuh, preserved in various transcriptions since the 16th century, is now available in English and Spanish. The new adaptation, which is being published in English and Spanish, could become an important learning tool for the estimated 20,000 Maya living in Southern California.

MESOAMERICA Bidding on the gray-green Mayan jde mask is rising in $5,000 increments. Representatives are bidding for clients on three continents. Sotheby's is moving into cyberspace -- a move that has the art world buzzing and archaeologists uneasy about the global demand for antiquities. Crisscrossed with stone roads and littered with Chachapoyas maces and Incan battle axes, their heads had been opened; their skulls had been cracked. It's a magic land, so pristine and virgin and beautiful.

CAFETERIA Stoney silence sometimes greets internationally known anthropologist Christy Turner when he delivers his most controversial thesis: that human beings have been eating human beings for centuries. Specifically, he has poven that the Anasazi and other Southwestern Indians practiced cannibalism, and that the practices came north to the Southwest and Chaco Canyon area from Mexico. The university's Culinary Archives & Museum houses a massive collection of artifacts, including White House menus autographed by presidents, cookbooks and half a human skull that once served as a rice bowl. One sure way to gain immortality -- no matter how hopeless your social and monetary strata -- is to eat somebody else. The man who did this best was Colorado's Alferd Packer, celebrated in song, in musicals, and in a string of sights along Colorado's Cannibal Trail.

CYBERIA A partnership between Heritage Preservation and the Smithsonian Institution, is offering to pay 50 percent of the restoration cost of one statue from each state -- up to $40,000 apiece -- as long as the other half is matched by the community or another grant. Statues missing fingers, heads, toes, parts and objects qualify as statues in need. The University of Maine's Hudson Museum is dismantling two exhibitions and storing some artifacts for safekeeping because of a beetle infestation. So far, efforts to exterminate the pesky beetles have failed. The museum is known for its Mesoamerican collection. Without the persistent pressure of Campbell and other Indian activists, the National Museum of the American Indian probably still would be on the drawing board. The museum's three large galleries won't open until 2002. Canals, which move goods slowly, were wiped out by railroads, which move them quicker. As the nation speeded up, its canals were abandoned.